Mississippi Development Authority chooses Picayune for Pilot Program

Published 2:35 am Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) Director of Asset Development Division, Joy Foy, met with city of Picayune officials and community leaders along with contractor to MDA, former Mayor of Vicksburg, Lawrence Lyons, on Thursday, October 27th.

The pilot program through the MDA brought out many ideas for city direction, along with multiple compliments on the way the Picayune City and Pearl River County officials worked together in a cooperative manner.

The emphasis was on the portrayal of quality of life to potential residents.

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Lawrence said, “In the 50s and 60s people went to live where the jobs were. Today, it’s all about quality of life. People are willing to commute if they come home to a high quality of life.

“You are actually ideal for big businesses to relocate here. Pearl River County is hub to so many different major cities. This would be an excellent place to live and commute elsewhere if need be.”

Overall beautification, was another emphasis from Lyons. He encouraged contacting property owners at each Picayune exit and the gateways to clean up their property; pick up litter on property and ‘tidy up’ their flower or shrub beds. Image is everything when it comes to making visitors feel welcome so they want to relocate their families or businesses to our area.

Lyons said that the best investment he made as Mayor of Vicksburg was in the flower bedding around the city. He spent a large sum in the landscaping of city beds but reported it paid large dividends when other property owners followed suit and the ones that did not were ticketed. He claimed the result of the city beautification was higher property values across the board.

Removing old banners and signage that were no longer in compliance was another topic that both Foy and Lyons agreed needed to be addressed throughout the city. Picayune and all businesses should honor Miss. Highway right of ways. Another concern they both expressed was the illegal signs attached to the wooden power poles throughout town.

Reality and perception were discussed— reality of crime and perception of crime is a major concern of new industries relocating to an area and also new families moving to the area. The reality is Picayune does not have a high crime rate but does our overall image give that impression?

Reba Beebe, former Picayune Main Street manager and community activist, said, “As a member of Team Picayune, I have a passion for Picayune and was very interested in project suggestions to accomplish as a team. One of those suggestions was to implement restoration to the old water tower on New Palestine Road with a coat of fresh paint and adding the City of Picayune logo. Even though it is no longer in use, the water tower has historic value.”

Lyons also suggested getting other community groups involved to show support and pride for the community through taking on small achievable goals that would build on each other and create a sense of pride and achievement.

Beebe said, “Through pride in property upkeep and community involvement, residents, property owners and business owners can help with a positive impression for Picayune that will encourage new residents to move their families to our area and new industry with job opportunities to build in our community.”

Foy and Lyons met with city officials after the group meeting to present information on how Picayune can obtain assistance targeting industries looking to relocate to cities like Picayune.

Picayune Mayor, Ed Pinero, said, “This was just an informative session that MDA gave. The council will actively work hand-in-hand with the MDA to achieve great results for Picayune.

Foy says, “It’s not about what you have or don’t have it’s about believing in yourself and knowing what you have to offer is of value.

“I know of plenty of communities that do so much more with less than communities that take their assets for granted and expect good things to just happen to them.

“At the end of the day it’s more about your leadership than what you have. I have to say that everyone I spoke to in town told me the same story about how the City and County work together. That is far from the norm.

Foy says, “The next step is asset mapping and identification. I hope to roll out an asset map on January 1, 2012 which identifies communities we have previously gone into and identify assets. We would love to work with Picayune and if the Mayor were to invite us to come back into the community we could place Picayune on this map in the future.”